I’ve recently returned from a short stint of travelling to Austria with work, and I don’t have any travels booked for the foreseeable future. For me this is a rarity and it’s had me thinking about some of the places I’ve been fortunate enough to live.
While working as a Nanny for a tour operator, I was living in a small town, Demre, on the South coast of Turkey. Demre is roughly three hours from any airport – Antalya in one direction and Dalaman in the other. Considering there is fuck all (excuse my French) in the town apart from tomato poly tunnels as far as the eye can see, I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be (all credit to Jess Glynn, cheers gal).
You also can’t forget it is the home to the original Saint Nick, so when wandering around the town centre, you will find a slightly disturbing number of trinkets and key rings covered in Santa. Weird, because when browsing these I was usually wearing a bikini and sweating my tits off. Not something you get used to.
Demre is far from picturesque. Most of the buildings are unfinished (something to do with tax I believe), there are no souvenir shops selling cute trinkets, no small bars with quirky things dangling from the ceiling. It’s simply not that sort of place.
However, it was a place I came to call home for 7 months. I lived and worked in a purpose built hotel for Neilson Active Holidays. The hotel was a 5 minute drive from the centre of Demre, on the endless perfect coast.
I worked in the Children’s Club, spending most of my time attempting to control the 14 – 18 year olds. A job no one should ever choose to take on. Most of their time was spent trying to drown me in one way or another. Love hate relationship etc.
A day in the life would consist of sailing, surfing, volleyball, getting dunked in the swimming pool and an evening of cocktails (served by the resident drug dealer at the beach shack). Can you see why I fell in love?
Demre was perfectly isolated. I loved being away from the hustle and bustle of a city, as well as being away from the tourist hotspots that emerge in some cities. Our beach was our own, as was the local beach bar and resident kebab shop. It was our own little heaven.
A 45 minute drive along the stunning (but winding and sick-inducing) coastline takes you to Kaş, another small, but much more touristy seaside town. Kaş is picturesque and beautiful, filled with trinket and souvenir shops, restaurants overlooking the sea serving fresh fish, and annoying men in the street who fling multi-coloured neon things into the air (like on firework night – you know what I mean?). Beautiful.
Keep heading down the coast and you will reach Kalkan. Much smaller than Kaş, yet more popular as a tourist area. The port is large and has many yachts and gulet cruises come in. I adore the vibe in Kalkan and it was my favourite spot for a day trip.
The best restaurants are up on the rooftops of the buildings, so when you’re up there with a view over all these restaurants, it’s got a bit of a Moulin Rouge feel. Like a whole world happening up there all on it’s own. There is nothing like it (probably is somewhere else in the world but I haven’t been there yet. Bite me.).
But the absolute best part about the South coast of Turkey is not the sun, or the views, or the beaches, or the ever so slightly unbelievably warm sea; but the people that live there.
I was always excited to do a summer season, but I never expected to fall in love with the culture. Almost without exception, every Turkish person I met was so welcoming. Whether it was staff in the hotel – restaurant, housekeeping, spa staff, beach staff. Or people I met in town, selling me Turkish Kebab or a Turkish beer or shisha. Every one of them was so kind and happy to have us there. After working in France and not speaking the language (my bad, I know), I couldn’t have ever expected a people to be so welcoming, but how I was wrong.
I can’t wait to return to this gorgeous part of the world. I find it heartbreaking that people have been put off travelling there in recent times, and I hope Turkey can turn this round and get tourists returning en masse as they did before.
Oh dirty Demerz how I miss you..